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Work 20-V-74
Kim Whanki
■Year 1974
■Medium oil on canvas
■Size (cm)
Even in entire Asia, there are very few areas like Korea which has created original abstract paintings in a high-standard fusion of Oriental sensitivity and Western modernism. In particular, Kim Whanki was an important artist who produced pioneer geometrical abstract works in the 1930s and he consistently sought after refined abstract forms until the 1970s. He came to Japan where he studied European modernisms, and later established a style of highly lyrical and formal tension by using traditional painting motifs such as plum blossoms and pots. Yet, not satisfied with this style, he went on breaking new ground in Paris and New York. As for this work of his very last years in the 'all-over stipple' technique, a comfortable rhythm is produced by the dots of mismatched colors on the canvas and the straight lines created by the spaces in between the dots spread out beyond the frame of the canvas. Here, there unfolds an ample space like the universe, which this artist attained in the end.
Kim Chagyeul
■Year 1977
■Medium oil on canvas
■Size (cm)
Kim Tschagyeul is known as an artist who paints subtle three-dimensional waterdrops that look so real that the viewer almost reaches out to touch them. He established his basic style in 1973, and has since been painting waterdrops and their shadows, permeation and dripping. More recently he has continued to pursue expressions of waterdrops with astonishing persistence in three-dimensional works. What supports his persistence is the spirit similar to that of a seeker after truth. It is a unique characteristic of Korean abstract paintings in which the will of self-expression is abandoned in order to become identical with nature through simple hardworks. A careful look at his work reveals that the waterdrops do not reflect the external world, which should be reflected in reality. Furthermore, although linen with its natural color of material is used, the waterdrops neither permeate nor drip, and instead they stay on the canvas forever. In other words, while an eye-deceiving realism is adopted in his depiction and materials, it is an unreal world unfolding before us, where all things become transparent and the world is reduced to naught in the ephemeral and minuscule waterdrops.
Yun Soknam
■Year 1993
■Medium acrylic on wood, zeroxed paper
■Size (cm)
Since the 1990s, Korea has produced many powerful female artists. Yun Soknam, among them, makes us think unconsciously of the unfair status of women. She uses apparently simple materials and of space, without openly lashing out at the patriarchy or illustrating the feminist theory. Here, too, the naive depiction and the texture of wood similar to the traditional folk paintings invite us to the conventional living world of Korea. In fact, the chok-po (genealogy) in the background refers to the family tree record based on the ancestor worship handed down in the Korean Peninsula and which is made in order to give the family authority in society, but the individual names of women are not recorded there due to the emphasis on the blood ties of the paternal line. Here, the artist makes a contrast between a young wife and an old woman who hanged herself to death because of the agony brought upon by patriarchy. It prompts us to reflect on nostalgia for 'tradition' which still binds women in modern Korean society to this day.
Cho Duckhyun
■Year 1994
■Medium charcoal, conte on canvas, antique box, glass etc
■Size (cm)
Cho Duckhyun is an artist who incorporates drawings enlarged from old portrait pictures within black box-like structures, and reveals unknown aspects of modern and contemporary Korean history as if opening old trunks. One of the two photographs used in this work is a picture of a young Japanese girl who died mad after losing her lover at war and is based on a story the artist heard from an immigrant of Japanese descent whom he met in Brazil. The other is a photograph of a Korean youth, who was conscripted as a Japanese soldier under Japan's colonization of Korea and executed as a war criminal once the War ended. In a space like a dusty storeroom, illumination starts to slowly light up the inside and then begins to fade out again slowly, upon which the figures of the viewers are mirrored in the glass placed at the back. We, living in this present day, are the ones who face such anonymous victims of the War and colonization.
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